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Würth brings art to Arlesheim

By Shirley L. Kearney, German by Martin Pütter

A world leader in its industry exhibits modern art on the outskirts of a quaint little town just outside Basel.

When thinking of Arlesheim, images come to mind of a quiet village and marketplace surrounded by wooded hillsides, some polka-dotted with vineyards, and home to Reichenstein and Birseck, two of the four castles on the Birseck slope. This is all valid: an illusionary or romantic impression of the municipality. Less bucolic and less known is the industrial area nestled in the lower part of the village with the Birs River running along it. With the exception of hikers who follow the Birs, and the employees of the various companies, little outside traffic takes place. However, those who know about and frequently visit the Forum Würth understand and appreciate what the Würth Group has done to promote and support the arts through their 15 galleries in Europe and in their workplaces.

The company

The Würth Group is the worldwide leader in the manufacturing of fasteners, screws, industrial tools, safety products and similar products, with 400 companies in 80 countries. The company manifests a strong direction of art and culture in the workplace. The Würth Collection, set up in the 1960s, basically concentrates on art from the 20th and 21st centuries – but it goes beyond that. The Old Masters collection is housed in Germany. Today some 16,000 works of art make up the collection, which includes a sizeable collection of Peruvian crèches (a selection of those crèches can be seen at the Würth Forum until 31 February 2015). Since 1999, galleries have been set up throughout Europe. There are three in Switzerland: Arlesheim, Chur and the latest and 15th gallery in Rorschach on the shore of Lake Constance.

At the Forum Würth in Arlesheim: A Harvest of Dreams – Hundertwasser

Friedensreich Hundertwasser, born Friedrich Stowasser in Vienna on 15 December 1928, adopted the name meaning “Rich-in-peace Hundred-water” – an extraordinary move for an exceptional artist. An exhibition of 46 of his colourful, organic paintings from the 1950s to the 1990s, all belonging to the Würth Collection, can brighten up any day, until 31 January 2016. For Hundertwasser, water is the most important element. His works are influenced by Gustav Klimt and Paul Klee, but he makes loud and clear his personal reasons for existing and creating. As he was utterly enveloped by Nature, the windows in the building are darkened. The paintings are artificially lighted so as to present, and not dilute, his true colours. Hundertwasser’s overriding goal was “to show through his art, that one can have paradise on Earth”.

He designed many homes; the only one in Switzerland is in Altenrhein. Perhaps his most famous building is the apartment house in Vienna with plants growing inside and no corners. He died in 2000 during a voyage on the QE2 and is buried in New Zealand. www.hundertwasser.com

General information: Address – Dornwydenweg 11, 4144 Arlesheim

Tel. +41 61 705 9610

By public transport, bus line 63, stop Birsweg; or tram 10, stop Stollenrain and a 15-minute walk.

Entrance is free. Opening hours: Sunday to Friday – 11am to 5 pm. Saturday – closed.

Lectures and performances are held periodically. A visit next door to the hardware shop is a trip in and of itself.

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